We are fortunate to live in a land that allows us to express our spiritual beliefs. And while our government has been gracious enough to allow us the right to religious freedom, the same isn’t always true when it comes to our families.
Parents often try to raise their children in the same manner in which they were raised and this includes raising them with strong spiritual beliefs. They don’t stop to question if this method is right or wrong. So, the same tactics and methods that were used to keep them in check as children are passed down from generation to generation.
Spiritual beliefs are a personal matter to every individual. And since we are all different, we will see and experience things in different ways. What one person views as a miracle, another may simply view as a natural law of nature. This doesn’t make one person correct and another person wrong. It simply means they have different ways of seeing things.
However, some people can not accept it when others have a spiritual belief or view that is separate from theirs. This can be difficult when you are a member of a family who has strong religious views that differ greatly from your own. Perhaps you’ve always felt that the spiritual beliefs your parents handed down to you were wrong. Or maybe your beliefs began to evolve once you became an adult and began to acquire your own opinion of things.
Whatever the situation is, having different beliefs can make you the target of ridicule and verbal attacks from the very people who are supposed to love and accept you, no matter what.
Here are some tips to keep you grounded and safe from any needless hostility.
Don’t Discuss Spiritual Topics – If you already know that your family and loved ones will fight you tooth and nail on your beliefs, then don’t discuss it with them. All this will do is ignite a heated argument, and once this happens, there’s no going back.
You have every right to express your own beliefs and views. But if you already know that expressing them to your family will cause chaos, then think twice before you take that step.
The last thing you need is for others to attack your spiritual views, especially when your spiritual views are young or in the mist of change. You need to nurture your spiritual self and opening yourself up for a spiritual and mental attack is far from nurturing. Which brings us to the next tip…..
Find A Community Of Like-Minded People – You may live in a small town or have adopted a spiritual belief that isn’t well known or accepted in your physical community. But thanks to modern technology, we have ways of connecting with people in a way that was impossible a few decades ago.
Facebook, Google+ and Twitter make it easy to find people who are interested in spiritual things. A simple search on any of these and other social networking sites will bring up groups, communities, pages and people who have similar interests in you. If your new belief has a religious affiliation, such as Christian, Muslim, Wiccan or even New Ager, you can easily find other people of your denomination. Once you find these groups, pages or people, take a look around their profiles and see what you think of their community. Are the people there nice? Do they have interesting topics? Do they get along? Are they welcoming and respectful of others? If so, this could be a good community for you.
Keep in mind that online spiritual communities are not like churches, temples or synagogues. You don’t have to commit to just one, so join several of them. Each group will have it’s own feel to it. After getting a taste of different groups, you may find one or more that you prefer or you may glean a bit of experience, knowledge and friendships from all of them.
So if it’s unsafe to discuss your beliefs with your blood family, find a safe community so that you can share them with your new spiritual family.
Don’t Take It Personally – If you are open about your beliefs but refuse to talk about them, and your family still criticizes you for them, or tries to argue with you about them, try not to take it personally.
Your family could be behaving in this way because they are frightened. They may belong to religious affiliations that teach their followers that non-believers will receive some type of harsh punishment upon death (such as slavery, purgatory or eternal damnation in a lake of fire). So their reaction to your beliefs is actually based on a twisted view of love. They care about you, and obviously, they don’t want you to suffer in the afterlife.
Keep in mind that people often fear what they don’t understand. So if your family is provoking or criticizing you because of your beliefs, it’s only because they aren’t in a place where they can understand your beliefs. This has little to do with you and more to do with their own insecurities.
They may also be a bit envious and jealous of your new spiritual beliefs and the freedom that it brings you. If you’re happy and content with your beliefs, and they’re miserable in their own, then they may feel a bit threatened by you.
Be Respectful – The Christian bible tells us that Jesus Christ told his followers to “Treat others as you want to be treated.” So if you want your family to be open minded and accepting of you even though your beliefs are different from theirs, then you must mirror this same attitude towards them. As Gandhi said “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
Cut Them Off– If the treatment you receive from your family is too much to bare, then it might be time to leave them alone for a while. After all, you’re all adults and there’s no reason for anyone to engage in childish or petty behavior. It’s one thing to discuss politics, money and yes, religion as adults. It’s quiet another to get mad at someone because of what they believe in.
This doesn’t mean that you need to leave your family permanently. It just means that you may want to take a sabbatical until things settle down and you feel like you can be in their presence.
There is no reason to ever put yourself in a situation where you will feel uncomfortable if you can avoid it. You need to take care of you. Your thoughts, feelings and well-being matter, and if a break from your family is what you need, then don’t feel guilty in taking one.
The world is far from perfect, and your family may never come to accept or agree with your spiritual beliefs, and that’s okay, because they have a right to their own beliefs too. The important thing is that they accept you for you and treat you with the love, dignity and respect that you deserve.